Tag Archives: Christine French

Photo - Jordan Prudente

DLA helps Grand Canyon student thrive

Jordan Prudente – Soft-spoken, shy smile, and a calm nature. But if the time is taken to look closer you’ll notice something more – an unmistakable glimmer of confidence in his eyes.

Prudente, a freshman at Grand Canyon University, says the Diversity Leadership Alliance is responsible for that.

“Before I joined the DLA, I was a really, really shy student,” Prudente says. “No one really knew me and then when DLA came in I became more confident. I wanted to speak out what was in my mind and that’s what they do.”

The DLA is an organization that has monthly workshops that aim to build leadership, diversity and equality through teamwork and encouragement from others.

Christine French, executive director, founder and co-chair of the DLA, says she soon realized that the next generation needs to be raised with these skills and values, which led her to partner with the Phoenix Union District.

DLA works with every high school at the Phoenix Union including Willow Canyon High School where Prudente originally joined the program.

Prudente says the main reason why he was so shy was because he had recently moved from the Philippines and was having trouble adjusting to the culture. His assistant principal suggested to him to join DLA at the end of his junior year and he says he is grateful the program was and continues to be there.

“I think I wouldn’t survive college if DLA wasn’t there for me,” Prudente says. “I’d still be a shy student. I still wouldn’t be out there.”

French says Prudente has been “transformed” and that was best demonstrated when he won the top $3,000 scholarship for the best speech created at the public speaking workshop. He later delivered his speech at the DLA’s most recent conference.

“When I first met Jordan he wouldn’t even look at me when he talked to me,” French says. “He looked at his feet. And other than yes and no I didn’t hear much from him. If you were to ask 1,000 people who came to the conference and heard him they would say, ‘are you sure you’re talking about the same young man?,’ because he was powerful. He was heartfelt. He had a message to deliver and he delivered it.”

Prudente says DLA strives to make a leader out of everyone and that he was no exception.

“They always say that there is a leader in you and they made me find the leader in me,” Prudente says. “Actually, the first workshop I went to I was pretty upset because I was like, why did they call me? I’m not even a leader. Then the next day they told me why I am a leader and showed me how I can be a leader.”

Prudente is utilizing his scholarship at Grand Canyon University and his plans for the future include preparing to apply to the school’s nursing program and continuing to attend DLA workshops.

French says it’s extremely important that young people like Prudente get involved.

“I want DLA to cultivate a generation of leaders that will transform not only themselves but transform their environment, their community, and everything they touch because as a leader you either transform your team or you deform them.”

Specialty Bread Company

Valley Diversity Leader Establishes Specialty Bread Company

Christine French, a local entrepreneur and businesswoman, has established The French Bear Company to produce and market a specialty bread product with a unique shape and flavor.

French, the founder and principle of Global Diversity Consulting, a Phoenix-based organization that partners with businesses to create diversity strategy and policy, is branching out with this specialty bread food venture.

The product, called the Teddy Bear Bread, is shaped like a teddy bear with a happy face. These charmingly-designed, golden brown and sweetly scented delicacies will make a welcome addition to any meal, or simply a delicious snack.

French came up with the idea for the business after making the specialty bread for her family and friends for decades. The love of the bread grew with each warm, succulent batch she made using natural, fresh and pure ingredients. Now, French has started the business with the help of her four grandsons, three of whom are autistic.

French aims to use the business not only to put her great specialty bread into the hands of hungry customers, but to teach her grandsons, who range in age from 10 to 16 years, about entrepreneurship, develop their baking skills and foster their self-sufficiency. Alexandre, age 16 and autistic, will serve as the chief of inventory, while Christian, age 14 and also autistic, will be chief of mailing. Noah, who is 10 and autistic, will be the chief taster, while his twin brother Ethan, who is the only grandson without Autism, will serve as general manager. All of the boys will actively participate in making each loaf of bread individually and by hand.

“This business truly is a labor of love. Our family has loved this bread for years and we want to share this special, one-of-a-kind product with others. Also, this business grew out of the love we have for our grandsons and the goal of helping each one of them develop their own set of unique skills through the art of bread making,” French said.

The business will market the bear breads through direct sales and mail order. Each bear-shaped loaf is priced at $4. To place orders, call 480-543-8189 or email frenchbearbread@hotmail.com.

Christine French - Creates a Nonprofit & successful entrepreneurial venture. - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Christine French Of The Nonprofit Diversity Leadership Alliance & Global Diversity Consulting

Christine French Took Her Expertise In Diversity To Create A Nonprofit And A Successful Entrepreneurial Venture.

Even as a young child growing up in Vietnam, Christine French always knew her main purpose in life was to help people from different backgrounds and experiences come together and form a whole.

“When I was eight, the first lesson in social studies was talking about ambassadors. Right then and there I stood up and announced to my teacher and my class, to their surprise and mine, ‘I am going to be one of those,’” French says. “The ambassador, as I learned that day in the lesson, is the person who helps people understand each other so they no longer have a need to fight, to have war. That has followed me since I was eight.”

In 2002, in the wake of Sept. 11, French hosted a roundtable in Phoenix that brought together business leaders and various associations to discuss the importance of diversity to business success.

Since the Diversity Leadership Alliance was officially formed in 2003, it has grown rapidly, and now hosts a wide range of events, including monthly workshops with average attendance rates of more than 100 people, quarterly executive and legal forums, an annual diversity conference, and a youth council.

French says she started the nonprofit Diversity Leadership Alliance and her business, Global Diversity Consulting, to dispel the many myths surrounding diversity efforts.

Diversity’s progress has been slowed, French says, because the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and affirmative action programs have led many employers to view diversity as a numbers game.

This misconception created resistance to embracing diversity, as many people and companies thought hiring minorities meant not hiring the most qualified candidate, she says.

But French, who is founder and co-chair of the Diversity Leadership Alliance, argues that diversity is really about embracing the gifts and talents of every individual, and putting those strengths to work for a company.

“EEOC and affirmative action are counting people; diversity and inclusion (are) making people count,” French says.

The only way to combat misunderstandings about diversity, French says, is to create dialogue, which is the goal of the Diversity Leadership Alliance and the forums it hosts. French says she wants this dialogue to lead to major changes in the way people think about diversity.

While promoting the benefits of diversity, French says she is often asked, “Why do I have to change? I’ve been successful so far.”

Her response?

“We all need to change, myself included,” she says. “We all need to change because what brought us here today, all the skill and talent and good work we’ve done yesterday to bring us here today, will not be enough to take us where we need to be tomorrow.”

French’s commitment to diversity extends to her own livelihood. In 2007, she left her job as senior global diversity leader at American Express to spend more time with her four grandsons. However, she continues to champion diversity through Global Diversity Consulting.

French has written and self-published two books, “The Lotus Path” and “How to Get Along With Other People Without Hiring a Hit Man.”

“The Lotus Path,” which will be available in March, details French’s life, her success and how she learned transformational leadership during her world travels.

French co-wrote “How to Get Along With Other People Without Hiring a Hit Man” with Rico Burton. The book, which was published in October, features 10 stories about workplace challenges, and includes activities to help readers find solutions to each situation.

With her books, her life and her work, French is trying to clear away the fallacies about diversity, and one day hopes, to quote Martin Luther King Jr., that her “grandsons (will) be judged by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin.”

Until then, French will continue pushing for more and more dialogue about diversity.

“Diversity … is about people. It’s about you. It’s about me,” French says. “Let’s clear it once and for all, because as long as we have a misconception, a misunderstanding, the work will never be done.”

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010